On Monday afternoon renewable energy advocates rallied in the state Capitol rotunda in support of energy policy legislation that seeks to boost solar energy in Minnesota. Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Paul Thissen were among the officials who spoke to a couple hundred activists in support of House and Senate bills that would call for utilities to generate 4 percent of their electricity from solar energy by 2030. The bills, sponsored by Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, and Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, were heard in committee on Monday, but neither was brought to a vote.
Dayton said the nation’s energy policy “has been to hang on to the status quo for a long as possible.” He said he hopes Minnesota someday runs on 100 percent renewable fuels.
“I would like to see Minnesota — after this session and after the Marty-Hortman legislation passes — set a goal eliminating all power from coal-fired power plants,” Dayton said.
Dayton and Hortman both told the rotunda rally that the bill is facing significant opposition from industry lobbyists.
“We need your help,” Hortman said. “Because as you know, the energy lobbyists are here. The folks who like coal are here. The folks who like natural gas are here.… You need to make sure you let your senator and your representative know: Minnesota is ready for solar.”
The controversial legislation was laid over on Monday night in the Senate Environment, Economic Development and Energy Finance Division in order to find a compromise before the bills are advanced.